Gluten-Free Caramelized Banana Cream Pie in Pecan Crust


Pecans, sugar and butter make up the whole of this pecan crust; no flour to get in the way of a very crunchy, nutty, gluten-free base for this banana cream pie. Bananas tossed in hot caramel create the next layer, topped with vanilla pastry cream and then a cloud of vanilla whipped cream on top. Right before serving, scatter whole caramelized pecans on the very top. The contrast of textures really makes the dessert, so pay careful attention to the assembly instructions. Make sure to read the recipe through to get all the do-ahead tips.

Gluten-Free Caramelized Banana Cream Pie in Pecan Crust
Makes: Serves 10 to 12
Caramelized Pecans:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 2 ½ cups pecan halves
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted unsalted butter
Caramelized Banana Filling:
  • 2 large, ripe, firm bananas
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
Pastry Cream:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon soft unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
  • 1 large, ripe firm banana
  • 1½ cups chilled heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  1. For the Caramelized Pecans: Line baking sheet with aluminum foil; smooth out any wrinkles. Coat lightly with flavorless vegetable oil using a pastry brush.
  2. Place sugar and water in a very small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling pan a few times, and cook until it turns light amber in color. Immediately remove from heat. Working quickly, drop pecans halves into the caramel one at a time and use two forks to help them submerge and become coated, then use the forks to remove the pecans one at a time from the caramel, allow excess to drip off. Place right side up on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining nuts; do not allow the nuts to touch one another on the foil. Allow nuts to cool completely and harden at room temperature. Store up to 3 days ahead in airtight container.
  3. For the Crust: Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Coat a 10-inch loose-bottomed fluted tart pan with nonstick spray; set aside.
  5. Place nuts and sugar in bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade and process until very finely ground. Pulse in melted butter until well blended. Pat into prepared pan, creating an even layer across bottom and up sides.
  6. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Crust might look puffy. Use the back of a soup spoon to press crust down and back into shape along pan’s sides and bottom. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes more or until very lightly colored. Cool completely on rack. Store at room temperature up to 1 day ahead, loosely covered with foil.
  7. For the Caramelized Banana Filling: Prepare the filling and topping the day of serving. At least 4 hours before serving, stir sugar and water together in nonstick skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until it turns a light to medium golden amber. Meanwhile, peel bananas. Remove skillet from heat and immediately slice bananas into ½-inch rounds right into skillet. Toss well with caramel. Immediately scrape into prepared crust and set aside.
  8. For the Pastry Cream: Place milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer; remove from heat.
  9. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heatproof bowl until very smooth. Reheat milk if it has become tepid.
  10. Drizzle about ¼ of the warm milk over the egg mixture, whisking gently. Add remaining warm milk and whisk to combine. Immediately pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over a low-medium heat just until it begins to simmer and bubbles appear. Whisk constantly to prevent scorching, cooking for about 1 minute. The pastry cream should be thick enough to mound when dropped from a spoon, but still satiny. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract and butter. Allow to cool slightly. Scrape warm (not hot) pastry cream over bananas and spread until smooth using a small offset spatula. Let pastry cream cool, then refrigerate at least 6 hours or until firm enough to slice. After it chills, you may cover it with a piece of plastic wrap pressed onto the surface for up to 4 hours.
  11. For the Topping: Up to 2 hours before serving, peel and cut banana in half crosswise then slice lengthwise into thin slices. Place these along the edge of the tart, using the curve of the fruit to follow the shape of the pie. There should be one ring of banana slices going around the entire pie along the edge. Beat cream, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until firm peaks form. Pile whipped cream attractively on top of pie. Pie may be served immediately or refrigerated for up to 2 hours. Sprinkle caramelized pecans on top right before serving.

Bakepedia Tips

  • If caramel thickens when working with the pecans, reheat gently until fluid. The caramel might continue to darken slightly while you are extracting all the nuts, which is okay.

5 Responses to Gluten-Free Caramelized Banana Cream Pie in Pecan Crust

  1. T. Lar January 17, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    All my guests loved this dessert. Thank you for sharing!

    • Dede Wilson January 17, 2014 at 11:28 am #

      Thank you for letting us know! I am curious whether the gluten-free aspect was what attracted you, or was it the flavors and textures in general?

      • Natasha-Heredia March 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

        I haven’t made it yet but it’s now on my list of to-make’s…. I first did a search of gluten-free and chose this because the combination of textures sounds wonderful, as does the bananas and cream!
        As a side note, I also have dairy-allergies so I will be experimenting with non-dairy (and non-soy) alternatives. In the future you may want to add some recipes that omit two or three of those common allergens.

        • Dede Wilson March 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

          Would love to hear about you experimenting with a non-dairy version! Let us know.

  2. Kathleen Johnson May 26, 2022 at 9:47 am #

    kept scrolling till i found a recipe without a box of pudding or cream cheese wish me luck

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